In my 30 years of life, I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of people are not living authentic lives.
I only came to this conclusion when after therapy, I realized that I wasn’t living authentically.
Mind you, I got an education, a job, and a good group of friends. Yet, I wasn’t living honestly. Where I wouldn’t assert my ‘self’ in life. Rather, I would go on living every day, with not much change.
Years would go by, and very little would have changed for me. And yet, I noticed the very same thing happening to others.
Some people that I have known for 10 plus years, still do the same things, complaining about the same things, and talk about the same things.
They don’t seek variety and try to stop any change from happening.
Change to them is horror.
During my inauthentic lifestyle, I would abhor any change. Even if the change was good for me, I would run away from it, I did not want anything to be changed.
The frustrating part of living an inauthentic life is the fact that over time we keep losing a bit of our true selves. And then when decades have passed and we are on our deathbeds, we wonder why we didn’t live honestly.
And in this piece, I am going to shed some light on why I think many of us are not living authentically.
Not Embracing Death
One fundamental truth that all human beings and organisms on earth experience is death.
Every single one.
And almost every single creature that died did so unexpectedly.
We can die from a car crash, an accident, an accidental overdose, falling down the stairs, a punch to the head, etc.
There are countless ways we can die.
Yet, why do we act like we are going to live forever? That sounds crazy, but if we look at our actions, we act as if we are going to live for an eternity.
When we procrastinate and tell ourselves that we have tomorrow, are we not acting as if tomorrow is guaranteed. And when we consistently procrastinate, it is implying that we feel that we always have more time.
When we overindulge with Netflix or Youtube, we act as if we have all the time in the world. So what’s the point in moderating our consumption of media?
When we delay taking risks thinking another or better opportunity is waiting, we tell ourselves that we are guaranteed more in the future.
Thinking that tomorrow is better is fatal for our dreams and ambitions.
The only way we can realize the value of today is to embrace death.
Not only embrace it but to love the idea that you are going to die.
Because when you realize you are going to die and that any moment could possibly be your last. Your true self will start to emerge.
The true self that contains your true personality, dreams, wants, needs, etc.
With death in mind, you will realize how precious each second of life is. There is going to be a time where you will be alive one second and dead the next.
That thought alone will make you realize to not waste time.
Death will help you live life more vigorously. You will no longer want to waste time with toxic people, even if it’s your family.
You will no longer waste time pretending to be something you’re not.
You will no longer let fear hold you back from taking chances in life.
Nietzsche felt that he was going to die young like his father. So he always had this urgency to write and produce his works before it was too late.
Even though Nietzsche lived a short life, he lived it more authentically than most people today.
I see countless people wasting precious seconds of their lives in unfulfilling relationships, soul-killing jobs, and sad lifestyles.
When we truly realize we only have one shot at life, just one, we would realize that it is our responsibility to live every second the best we can.
So don’t let death be a somber topic. Let it invigorate your one chance at life.
With death out of the way, another thing I want to discuss that blocks us from living authentically is phones and the internet.
Too Much Phone and Internet Usage
Now before I get a little deeper on this topic, I want to let you know that I do not dislike technology, the phone, or the internet. Without it, I would have never found all the great resources that fuel my philosophy and writing.
Anyways, the biggest problem with phones and the internet is how we use it as a distraction.
Distraction from what?
Distraction from ourselves.
With our phone constantly in our hands, we never give ourselves time to be alone. We are always looking at what’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Gossip Blogs, Sports Blogs, etc.
And when we scroll through the internet, we go through it again to see if we missed anything. All of this content is about other people.
For instance, I hate sports sites, because we have adults writing, talking, and arguing about other adults playing a game.
When I really think about it, these are adults fawning over other adults’ lives.
So many of us care about these athletes, their income, their drama, that we forget to live a memorable life ourselves.
Why should we care about how many points another man is producing, when we haven’t started our personal project.
Why should we care about how much money a player is making when we haven’t figured out a way to make extra money.
Why should we care about a player’s legacy, when we are not leaving our own legacy.
With the phone and the internet, all we care about are other people.
And when this happens, we are making it less likely to live up to our true potential. When we are more concerned about someone else’s success and not ours, is when we have fallen off.
The same can be said about gossip blogs and all.
The internet is being used to ignore ourselves. And when we ignore ourselves, our dreams start becoming fantasies. Our goals start becoming jokes. Our uniqueness starts being like everybody else.
If you think I am crazy when was the last time you went to the washroom without your phone?
For many of you, that’s probably going to be years.
Listen, when you focus less on the internet and all the people it talks about. You intuitively will start focusing on yourself.
Instead of going on the internet to read about what so and so did, you’re going to be more concerned with what you are doing with your time. Which will lead you to:
Taking a more active role in life.
Being more engaged with life.
And becoming the person you knew you were deep down.
With reduced use of the phone, social media, internet, you start actually living life. Time is quickly running away and we need to focus on using it in a way that will benefit us and bring out our true potential.
The internet, social media, apps, and all, are things that will inhibit us from life. And any life that is being inhibited is not a real life.
The last thing that stops people from living an authentic life is not treating each action with a little more seriousness.
Not Treating Each Action More Seriously
I know this sounds weird but read this passage from Abraham Maslow’s book Toward a Psychology of Being:
“The serious thing for each person to recognize vividly and poignantly, each for himself, is that every falling away from species-virtue, every crime against one’s own nature, every evil act, every one without exception records itself in our unconscious, and makes us despise ourselves. Karen Horney had a good word to describe this unconscious perceiving and remembering; she said it ‘registers.’ if we do something we are ashamed of, it ‘registers’ to our discredit, and if we do something honest or fine or good, it ‘registers’ to our credit. The net results ultimately are either one or the other — either we respect and accept ourselves or we despise ourselves and feel contemptible, worthless, and unlovable.”
Every decision we make builds us into something. Whether we realize it or not, we are keeping tabs on what we are doing. And we will bear the consequences.
When you see an attractive person and you want to introduce yourself. But for whatever reason, you don’t.
Your mind/body remembers that.
When you are being treated poorly and you want to stand up for yourself. But for whatever reason, you don’t.
Again, your mind/body remembers that.
Every action you take is either building you into someone you respect or despise.
Understanding this makes us realize that we need to be more active in our lives. And when I say active, I mean taking a more conscious approach.
We can’t just live life passively.
We have to be fully engaged, otherwise, we will automatically turn ourselves into someone we will not respect.
Your life will always be a work in progress, so make it a work in progress that’s moving in a positive direction.
Instead of consuming the news, let’s read a classical book.
Instead of chasing a person who is not interested in us, let’s spend time with people who enjoy our company.
Instead of watching other people do things on the internet, let’s go outside and do something we enjoy.
The more times you consciously take actions that make you respect yourself, the more likely you are going to live authentically and end up being happy.
We can’t be drifters in our lives and then ask God for another try at life.
We have to wake up and bear the full responsibility for our lives now.
Life is passing as we speak, so why not live authentically.
I know I blabbed on but I can’t stress this enough that we need to live authentically. Instead of being a plain jane, our true selves will leave a mark on people.
People will either come to love us or hate us.
And that alone will help us filter people and see who we want to spend time with.
There are countless benefits of living an authentic life. Yet, you have to experience it to truly understand it.
So with the time you have remaining in your life, embrace death, reduce your phone usage, and treat each action with more seriousness.
If you follow this, decades of life will pass, and when it’s time to die, you won’t be scared.
Since it’s easier to die when you know you lived life to its fullest.
(Books that influenced this post is The Age of Defeat by Colin Wilson, Philosophy as a Way of Life by Pierre Hadot, Toward a Psychology of Being by Abraham Maslow).